ABU DHABI — Evidence of Saudi-led coalition land forces operating in Yemen has been mounting since the initiation of Operation Golden Arrow to recapture the city of Aden on July 16.
Although no official confirmation from the coalition was provided, a coalition official has told Defense News that 600 servicemen and trained Yemeni fighters were deployed to recapture the port city.
"We are supporting the legitimate corps in the Yemeni armed forces militarily, logistically and with humanitarian aid and we are supplying them with materials and information," Brig. Gen. Ahmed Al-Assiri, spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition told Al-Arabiya television in an interview on July 22. "However I will not be able to explain on what types of support or involvement as operations are still ongoing," he added.
Since operations began, the coalition official said, Saudi Arabia has deployed 45 mine-resistant ambush- protected Oshkosh M-ATVs, while the United Arab Emirates has deployed 50 Emirati-made Nimr four-wheel-drive multipurpose armored vehicles as well as 25 Emirati-made Enigma eight-wheel-drive infantry fighting vehicles.
This is the first deployment of the 8x8 Enigma as the vehicle was first unveiled at the Abu Dhabi International Defence Exhibition in February.
The vehicle, produced by Abu Dhabi-based Emirates Defense Technology, was set to undergo trials this summer with the UAE armed forces, company CEO Mohamed Al Suwaidi told Defense News during IDEX 2015.
The vehicle, Al Suwaidi said, was designed based on rigid UAE armed forces requirements to fulfill tasks including being able to carry BAE Systems' variant of the M777 howitzer artillery gun.
"We want to build this vehicle specially for our military, especially for their requirements and build it exactly around what they want, as opposed to something off the shelf being built by someone," Al Suwaidi said.
A team from the UAE also arrived in Aden to reopen the airport on July 20.
Yemen's transport minister, Badr Mubarak Ba-Salma, said that a specialist technical team arrived to reopen the airport and that contractors would be brought in to work on the airport.
The UAE also registered two combat casualties in one week, on July 16 and 21.
According to a statement released on July 16 by the UAE armed forces, a UAE serviceman died while "performing his national duty" with Saudi-led coalition forces.
"Lt. Abdul Aziz Sarhan Saleh Al Ka'abi was killed while participating in Operation Restoring Hope, in support of the internationally-recognised Yemen government of President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi, said the UAE General Command of the Armed Forces," the statement read
On July 21 another casualty was announced and tributes poured in from throughout the country for the third Emirati soldier to die in Operation Restoring Hope. In June, a non-commissioned UAE officer identified as Hazim Obaid Al Ali had died.
The third serviceman was only identified as Saif Youssef Ahmed Al Falasi, 35, and was stated to have been killed in combat in Yemen.
According to Aleksander Jovovic, principal at Avascent, a Washington-based aerospace and defense consultancy, in a "typical" counterinsurgency air campaign, some presence on or near the battlefield is highly beneficial.
"Forward air controllers, the most prominent role, ensure effective targeting. Beyond that, mirroring the US engagement against ISIL in Iraq, other ground presence may include air traffic control at active airports or airfields, and military trainers and advisers — sometimes accomplished by special forces units," Jovovic explained.
"With the increasing scope of foreign equipment in theater, coalition maintenance and support personnel may also be involved, as is the case with logistics experts that are involved in resupply or coordinating the humanitarian effort," he added.